Panel Discusses BIM During IFMA Conference at VCU


On March 10, 2015, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Richmond Chapter hosted their monthly meeting at VCU. This meeting consisted of a panel discussion with a knowledgeable group of professionals from Hourigan, Baskerville and Draper Aden about Building Information Modeling (BIM).

The panelists consisted of Dave Spriggs, Structural Engineer at Draper Aden, Jay Woodburn, Architect at Baskervill, Jake Althizer, Virtual Construction Coordinator at Hourigan, and Michael Henley, Virtual Construction Coordinator at Hourigan. Past Chapter President, Jim Mallon, was the moderator for the session and asked a list of questions about BIM to the panel members. Here’s a recap of the questions and answers from the session.

What is BIM?

Dave Spriggs of Draper Aden explained that BIM involves “building a model, rather than a plan. It’s a collaborative platform where information is shared.”

What software program is used to build this model?

Jay Woodburn stated that the program being used is REVIT, the successor to Autocad. It is currently being used by the larger firms that are up to speed on it.

What are the advantages of BIM?

One of the main advantages of BIM is the coordination that takes place—as the ductwork, piping, structural, walls, etc. are all shown on the same model. “This saves time on the construction phase of the project and results in fewer change orders,” said Jake Althizer of Hourigan. Michael Henley added that every system in the building is shown in the BIM model, in 3-D, so that the model is holistic.

What if one of the participating firms in the project does not use REVIT?

Dave Spriggs mentioned that five or six firms in the Richmond area are now using NAVISWORKS, which allows a non-REVIT user to see, but not make changes to, the model.

Why isn’t everyone using it?

“It’s not easy,” Jay Woodburn commented. “BIM is a big investment in both hardware and software, and it’s a demanding, complex tool that requires lots of staff training. The IT power demand is huge and expanding, and the model takes up so much memory that you can’t email it.”

Others on the panel contributed and said that although there is additional investment and time upfront to build the model, the job goes much more smoothly and quicker in the field. Furthermore, contractors understand the architect’s intent and details from the various specialties are shared. This allows components to be anticipated and ordered in advance.

Was BIM used on the Academic Learning Commons at VCU?

Mike Henley of Hourigan explained that the project did use BIM and yielded a lot of successes, as well as pin pointed some problems with the process. When asked about using BIM on modifications to existing buildings, he replied that a 3-D laser scanner can pick up data from an existing building, particularly using NAVISWORKS. VCU has begun the process of doing so with 276 buildings, although it will be some time before they are all on the system.

BIM is becoming a must-have tool for the built environment and becoming more widespread in the industry. BIM offers great advantages in coordinating construction projects, including increased collaboration between all parties. To learn more about BIM, download our free guide “10 Key Questions to Ask Before Procuring BIM Services.”

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